Conflict in neighbouring Ukraine seriously changed the calculus of political change in Belarus. The Ukrainian crisis forced the government, opposition, Russia and the West to look differently at politics in Belarus as well as in Eastern Europe.
President Alexander Lukashenko has remained wary of any attempts to overthrow his government via a Soros-sponsored colour revolution. As Vadim Trukhachev, a professor of the Department of Foreign Regions at the Russian State University for Humanities, noted in the Svobodnaya Pressa : “Belarus has already faced numerous attempts at creating a ‘Maidan scenario’ in the country, and each time Lukashenko has firmly suppressed them.
This weekend, police in Belarus arrested hundreds of protesters against a so-called “social parasites” tax on the under-employed. As many had defied a ban to protest, taking to the streets of Minsk and other cities, demonstrators shouted “Fascists!” at riot police.
Protesters were using the word “basta,” a Spanish/Italian word for “enough,” as a slogan, a non-Russian word.
Organisers of the protest, linked to George Soros, called the march “Freedom Day”, evoking the independent Belarus that lasted just six months after the First World War, in 1918. They tried to march down one of the major streets in Minsk, but were blocked by police who arrested them, along with journalists covering the protest, Alexander Ponomarev told AP news agency.
Earlier, police raided the offices of human rights group Vesna and detained about 30 activists. The authorities had already jailed more than 100 opposition supporters for terms of between three and 15 days in the lead-up to the demonstration, the BBC reported.
Seemingly inspired by the disasters of Colour Revolutions elsewhere, the Belarusian opposition has on multiple occasions tried to oust Lukashenka through post-election protests.
Lincoln Mitchell, who for many years worked for the National Democratic Institute in post-Soviet nations, stated that “by the spring of 2006 Belarus was one of the few countries in the world, certainly the only one in the former Soviet Union,” where Washington sought regime change.
Senator John McCain issued a statement on the protests in Belarus: “The public demonstrations unfolding in Minsk today are a powerful expression of the democratic aspirations of the Belarusian people. Over the past several weeks, thousands of Belarusians have gathered to preserve their basic human dignity and demand accountability from their government despite facing repression and violence. It is inspiring to see their perseverance.
“President Lukashenko should immediately and unconditionally release the hundreds of citizens who have been unjustly detained and arrested for exercising their fundamental right to free expression and assembly and respect its citizens’ civil liberties. The Belarusian people deserve the freedom to chart their nation’s future, and it is time the Government of Belarus respond to their legitimate demands.”
But many have recognised Soros’ negative influence in sowing conflict and discord. Reuters quoted anti-Soros campaigners in Macedonia, Romania, and Hungary accusing Soros of using his Open Society Foundations to create a vast web of front groups that push a globalist agenda.
“Our inspiration comes from the United States, from the American conservative organizations, media and congressmen with the same views, especially the new administration of President Trump,” said Cvetlin Cilimanov, the editor of the main state news agency in Macedonia, who co-founded a group called Operation Stop Soros in January.
Reuters reported on Friday that Hungarian President Viktor Orban blamed Soros-funded groups for his government’s defeat last week of a lawsuit in the European Court of Human Rights over the expulsion of two migrants who came to the country from Bangladesh.
“It is a collusion of human traffickers, Brussels bureaucrats and the organizations that work in Hungary financed by foreign money,” Orban stated last Friday on public radio. “Let’s call a spade a spade: George Soros finances them.”
The Hungarian parliament is planning to submit a bill against foreign-funded non-governmental organisations, or NGOs, that operate within the country.
In the US Soros has been tied to advocacy for open borders, opposition to immigration enforcement, and, most recently, to activist groups attempting to derail President Trump’s domestic agenda.
Reuters cited Szilard Nemeth, a deputy leader of Hungarian Prime Minister Vikto Orban’s ruling Fidesz party, in January who noted that “fake NGOs of the Soros empire are sustained to suppress national governments in favor of global capital and the world of political correctness”.
“These organisations must be repressed by all means and I think they must be culled altogether,” Nemeth said. “I think there is an international opportunity to do that now.”